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Belly Up

Dec 8, 2011
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Bringing small town to downtown, Beer Can Alley opens with country feel
Manager Tommy Bomstad hopes to have a full whiskey bar in coming weeks to add to the local favorites of tall boys and the “Long Horn” Island Tea. A kitchen serves wholesome American food from 5-11 p.m., too.

Beer Can Alley
216 Court Ave.
Hours: 5 p.m. to close, Mon.-Sun.
Kitchen: 5-11 p.m. Mon.-Sun.
Happy Hour: 5-9 p.m. Mon.-Sun.
Capacity: 177

By Jared Curtis

If it hadn’t just opened only weeks ago, you might think country music artist Toby Keith had derived his inspiration for the song “I Love This Bar” from a Friday night visit to the new Beer Can Alley. Sinners and Saints closed in early November. Ten days later, it reopened as Beer Can Alley with a whole new look and a country-western theme

“We wanted to bring small-town Iowa to downtown,” said Tommy Bomstad, who managed Sinners and Saints and will continue managing Beer Can Alley and Heroes, located upstairs. “I love it. It’s awesome. I grew up listening to country, so it gives me that feel I’m comfortable with. And now I get to wear my cowboy boots to work.”

Though they are both owned by Rodney Bell and Ted Hawley, and though the two bars live next to each other, Beer Can Alley and Heroes are two completely different animals — and so are their patrons, Bomstad said. While Heroes keeps up with the clubbing competition of Court Avenue, Beer Can Alley brings something unique — something country — to downtown Des Moines.

“They’re two separate crowds, and both bars are really taking off,” he said. “A lot of people are happy with the change. They said they’ve been waiting for a pure country bar downtown. Even people who didn’t think they liked country music find themselves sticking around and having a good time. So there’s still that diversity in the crowd.”

Bomstad said Beer Can Alley easily fits with the Court Avenue pub crawl, but in addition to luring the carousers, it’s also a destination spot for people looking for a boot-stomping, line-dancing, country party.

“On the weekends, it’s almost like a western movie,” said promotional marketing director Eric Hartung (aka DJ Big Swag), who is in charge of the music as well as the networking for the bar. “It’s a hoedown bar party in here. The whole place is rockin’ out — people are stomping their feet and clapping their hands. It gets crazy.”

The Beer Can Alley team had no idea just how crazy things were going to get. On opening night, it seemed the entire crowd from the Zac Brown Band lined up at the door… and along the bar… and on the dance floor.
“We had to close the front door because we were over capacity,” Bomstad said. “We were not prepared for that kind of a turnout on opening night.”

They’re prepared now, and Bonstand and Hartung are looking forward to the country shows that have been coming to Wells Fargo Arena monthly. Now country concert-goers have a place all their own for the post party to keep the night rockin’, they said.
As Toby Keith would say, “It ain’t too far. Come as you are.” CV

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